Leaders of a Manchester (England) Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses failed in their efforts to avoid a government investigation of the way it managed allegations of sexual abuse by (or involving) its members. Claiming “religious discrimination,” the overseers (“elders”) of the congregation failed to make their case before a regional judge.
Great Britain has established its own Charity Commission to investigate charges of either complete failure or gross mishandling of child abuse cases within religious organizations and other similar groups. (The UK Commission’s approach is similar in operation and with similar objectives to the well-publicized Australian Charity Commission.)
Local and national representatives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to use every legal means available to them to prevent the Charity Commission from effectively investigating allegations of sexual abuse within local congregations. It has also been alleged that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ investigative procedures force victims (even young children) to face their attackers and even testify in quasi-judicial meetings without proper representation with only elders and the accused present.
Local congregations and their national organization have fought to prevent the Charity Commission from achieving its goal of protecting the rights of children and adult victims of sexual and physical abuse.launching two inquiries into allegations that survivors of sexual abuse were being forced to face their attackers in so-called judicial committees.
One of the major issues involved in this case is the Commission’s right to have access to the records, transcripts and policy letters involved in this and similar cases throughout the UK.
Another issue is the disagreement between the representatives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Commission’s attorneys about access to records, documents, and other pertinent and related resources withheld by the Watchtower organization and its local Kingdom Halls.
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Great Britain launched litigation to challenge the Commission’s right to investigate. Watchtower representatives filed appeals in lower courts to prevent the Commission’s access to pertinent documents and records that reveal their policies and procedures for handling accusations of abuse or other criminal activity. According to The Guardian newspaper, the Watchtower dropped their appeals to the Commission in January (2017).
Read The Guardian‘s complete report on this case: